I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into what I have been working on today. It's finally done. Yeah!
Ashling stared at the pale stranger before her. If she hadn’t seen a picture of him, she never would have believed that Devlin was standing there. She never would have committed to meeting him in person to unless she hadn’t talked to him on the phone first. Before that there were hundreds of text messages and emails. She had spilled her heart to his man. He did not judge her for the choices she made. Moreover, their long talks blossomed into a good friendship. Finally he suggested they should meet.
Devlin leaned against the glass of the empty coffee shop, half shrouded in shadows. His shoulder length hair was caught back in a ponytail. The illumination of the lights made his skin even paler than in his snapshot. A strand, escaping the binding of the elastic, played along his high cheekbones in the gentle breeze. He was even more beautiful in real life than staring at his photograph. Ashling had committing his to memory just in case she woke up and the photo was somehow gone.
She stood on the corner, still in the darkness, feeling the energy of the environment playing on her skin, tickling her. She drew in the strength of the night letting it feed her deep hunger. The energy filled her with warmth. She had to remember this man was like her, a psychic vampire. She licked her lips. Part of her wondered if she blinked is Devlin would disappear. My nerves are getting the better of me. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. There were many stories of women meeting strange men from the Internet and the women were never heard from again. She gripped the sides of her skirt wiping her sweaty palms on the fabric. She sucked on her tongue ring, pushing it up and down inside her mouth, and clinking it against her teeth. Even her toes shook. This is ridiculous. He won’t hurt me. I’ve been talking to him for over a year now. I know him.
“Yeah, but how much do you know him?” Christa’s voice echoed in her mind.
More than I ever knew you before I told you what I was. And that didn’t stop you from hanging around me. Ashling dismissed her friend’s statement and drew in a breath. She pushed up her glasses. Car headlights blinded her. She threw up her hand to protect her eyes from the glare and withdrew farther into the shadows. It was safer there. The velvet darkness concealed her even from Devlin’s eyes. Her eyeteeth tingled. A slow burn unwound in the pit of her stomach. This isn’t good. It meant her hunger was unsatisfied. The energy of the night wasn’t helping. Ashling had fed before she came to meet Devlin. Christa had allowed her to draw in some of her energy before she left. Normally, Ashling liked to feed while she was asleep and dreamwalking, but tonight she needed the energy. Her nerves were burning through the energy. She ran her tongue over her teeth willing the hunger away. At times like this, when her hunger raged it seemed she possessed actual fangs like she was a real vampire. That’s preposterous.
Smoothing the fabric of her skirt one more time, she stepped into the dim light of the café. Devlin wasn’t there. Somehow he had disappeared in the few seconds she blocked her eyes from the oncoming headlights. She turned searching Massachusetts Avenue for him. There were too many shadows for him to hide in, if he was playing with her. Shit. He must have thought I wasn’t going to show and left. Regret consumed Ashling. Her chance of meeting her online friend was blown. He had disappeared into the night. Maybe it was all my imagination. Maybe I didn’t really see him.
A deep laugh erupted next to her ear, a velvet purr she wasn’t sure that came from a human throat. Ashling spun around. Devlin now rested against the telephone pole gazing straight at her. A wide grin spread on his sensuous lips. She stared at him. The smile made him breathtaking than the dark brooding photo he had sent her. A row of silver hoops hung in both of his ears climbing up to the top. His eyes were dark and smoky, surrounded by long onyx lashes. A sprinkling of stubble ran along his chin. In the picture, his face was angled down so she hadn’t seen his eyes that closely.
Her throat went dry. She struggled to find the right words even in greeting. Here was the guy, her savior sometimes, who had listened to her and helped her through the horrible bouts of hunger she’d had, the depression, and the rejection she’d experienced over the past year. It wasn’t easy being a psychic vampire in the world. Most of the populace thought she was insane for being what she was, but when she did find the small niche to belong to; her whole world had opened up. She had discovered kindred souls among the online communities. There was always the possibility they were yanking her chain, but she was pretty good at reading people. Just as she was the first time she had gotten a personal IM from Devlin.
She was browsing some threads on a message board. Her little icon showed she was online and accepting instant messages. Devlin’s popped up. She almost ignored it, but something in the way he phrased his question that was unlike any others she had come across. It intrigued her. His icon on the forum was a smiley face. Most of the logos, like hers, reflected something of their owners’ dark personalities. Hers was a little picture of one her Living Dead dolls, Lilith to be exact. The smiley face should have turned her off, but staring at the blinking cursor while he waited for a response, Ashling studied his introduction question. It read:
“Are you happy, Ashling?”
Was she happy? What a crazy question to ask her? Of course she was happy. Her fingers poised on the keyboard of her laptop ready to make some snide reply, but the question echoed through her thoughts. Was she happy? She had a boyfriend. She was keeping the hunger at bay. She had a job that she liked. Her roommate was great. There were no problems in her life except finding others who were like her and the online community was revealing more psychic vampires every day. Even though she was finding them, a small part of her never felt they were completely like her.
So she typed her response. “Most of the time.”
“What about right at this moment? If you could capture it and freeze it, would you be happy?”
“Yes,” she replied, but doubt lingered in her mind.
There was a pause. She wondered if he was laughing. A low chuckle echoed through her darkened bedroom. I’m hearing things. It’s imagination giving this crazy guy a personality.
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Why? Can you make me happy?”
“I don’t know. I was only posing the question. I like to make people think.”
Ashling snorted when she read the response. He certainly made her think. “Well, are YOU happy?”
“Of course. I’ve just met you.”
Blood rushed to her cheeks. Why am I blushing when I don’t even know this guy from a hole in the wall? He could have been a depraved serial killer for all she knew. “Well that’s nice of you to say, but you don’t know me.”
“But I want to know you.”
“Well I don’t want to know you.” Ashling closed the lid of her laptop shutting off the contact with the mysterious IMer. For the rest of the day, their small conversation stuck in her head. Even while she was at work pouring drinks, the band on stage couldn’t pull her mind off the conversation. When she arrived home that night, exhausted, smelling like cheap beer and cigarettes, she dared open her laptop. The little white box remained, waiting for her to reply. She shook her head and closed the computer again. If the guy really wanted to talk, then he would have to wait until she had showered and gotten a little shut eye.
“Are you daydreaming?”
Ashling blushed. She glanced at Devlin completely tuning him out. She looked away. “Sorry.”
“No need to be sorry. I never took you for someone that daydreamed. You’ve always been so down to earth when we talk.” There was a hint of annoyance in his voice. She didn’t blame him. Devlin lived a few hundred miles away in New York City while she was in Boston. They had arranged the meeting a few weeks ago when they both had a few days off.
She shook her head. “I’m not really. I was thinking about the first time we met. When you IMed me and asked me if I was happy.”
He smiled this time. Amusement lit up his smoky eyes. Ashling bit her lip harder, this time tasting blood. She shouldn’t fantasize about Devlin. Evan and she had dated for over a year now. They were good together. He was a normal looking college student, but underneath his Polos and khakis, there was a rocker with some outrageous tattoos. Ashling hadn’t told him about being a psychic vampire yet. He thought she was only interested in vampirism. Evan wasn’t pleased when she told him that Devlin was coming out to meet with her. She explained that she and Devlin were only friends.
“Why don’t we go inside? It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
She nodded and headed toward the café. Ashling reached for the door, but Devlin got it first holding it open for her. Blood seared her cheeks hurting her face from blushing so hard. She’d had butterflies in her stomach on the subway ride over, but those fluttery little insects had morphed into dive bombing hawks, churning her stomach. There was no reason to be anxious around Devlin. She ducked inside glad that the interior of the café was dim. There were plenty of nooks and crannies where she could hide, especially upstairs. They walked to the counter and ordered. She got a hot chocolate with shaved dark chocolate on top of the whipped cream. Devlin ordered peppermint tea. He didn’t seem the type who went with tea. She assumed he was a hardcore kinda guy who drank his coffee black. They said nothing while Devlin followed her up the winding staircase. Her favorite spot, next to the window, was open. It was in the corner where she could look down and watch the pedestrians passing by. Sometimes she wondered what they were rushing to. Tonight she paid the bustling street no mind. She was too enamored with having Devlin here in the flesh. Part of her yearned to reach out and touch him, fling her body against his to feel he was solid. She didn’t. And he hadn’t made any move to touch her either. Devlin slid into the chair across from her careful for not even his boot to bump her knee under the small table.
Ashling poked at the dark chocolate slivers with her spoon not able to meet his eyes yet. She tried to keep her hands steady. What can we talk about? I’ve told him all my secrets. He knows so much about me. Even more than what I’ve told Evan. He even knows about some of the sexual things I’ve done. Devlin could be my best girlfriend. She tried to put down her spoon gently on the rim of the saucer, but with her shaking hands, she dropped the spoon. It clattered and spattered her with hot chocolate droplets.
“Shit,” she muttered. Her right eye started to twitch from the stress of the meeting. Ashling grabbed a napkin, dabbing at the spots on her cheek and then on the table. Devlin’s hand shot out. His fingers landed on the white napkin pinning it to the wooden surface. There was still centimeters between them.
“Ashling, focus.” His voice was controlled. She dared a look into his eyes. They smoldered, reaching into her soul and capturing her. She drew in a breath nearly choking on the air she gulped in. The heat from his fingers brushed against her flesh. His aura bumped against hers enticing the hunger. The temptation to pierce his aura and drain is slowly, savoring it, pressed on her mind. Her teeth ached again. His gaze held her, but she regained control and finally looked away from him.
“Sorry, Devlin. I’m normally not this discombobulated when I meet new people.”
“I don’t bite, Ashling.”
She laughed. “You could if you wanted to.” Devlin was a psychic vampire like her. That was the whole reason she had started talking to him in the first place. He also professed to drinking blood from time to time, but mostly he got by on energy the way she did.
Devlin smiled, flashing his perfect white teeth. His canines were longer than normal giving him natural fangs. “You’re absolutely correct. I could bite if I wanted, but there’s no one appetizing in here at the moment. Except you, of course.”
Ashling snorted. “Now I know you’re lying.”